The Last Query: A New Approach to Crafting a Novel Query Letter


Dyson deconstructs the novel query to help writers craft personal and unique query letters and find the right literary agents.



When Dyson finished her first manuscript, she set about figuring out how to actually sell it. She discovered she had about a 3% chance of getting a major publisher and a good deal. Terrible, she said, and devoted herself to research. She found much of the how-to information plebeian, expected, even conflicting. She decided to toss it all and start from scratch, thinking about the process not from her, the author’s perspective, but from agents’ and editors’.

The Last Query is her best advise.



WE BELIEVE you should get the books you want the WAY you want.


Dyson at Aleutian ruins.

Dyson at Aleutian ruins.

Dyson grew up in Alaska, backpacking, canoeing, skiing, sailing, gold panning. She spent a summer in the Aleutians, which inspired her first novel, which inspired The Last Query.

Although she now lives in Montana, she visits her family in Alaska every Christmas.  “When your grow up in Alaska,” Dyson says, “it informs your thinking forever. I credit my Alaska upbringing with my tendencies to think for myself, scramble toward adventures, and generally be a pain in the butt.”

Dyson in a reading-duel

Dyson in a reading-duel

The Confessional

We asked & our authors answered…

Cindy been known to…sit at her desk so long she can’t walk properly.

Things she likes…sleeping lofts crammed with down blankets, violin music in a storm, creaky floors.

She’ll never get caught…returning purchases. Be decisive and live with it.

A favorite/line expression and where it’s from:  “Shut up,” I explained.  (Robert Parker in one of his Spencer novels.)

Alaskans she most admires: Ret. Senator Fred Dyson (father), ret. psychologist Jane Dyson ( mother), glacier geologist Wendy Shaw (sister),  Alaska Fashion-ista Jana Ozturgut (sister)

Favorite Alaska places: The Aleutians, Prince William Sound, Bering Sea


Readers & writers form a relationship on the page. We help you make connections off the page.

(Dyson is no longer maintaining an author presence online. She has moved into web design. You may contact her through her portfolio site.)

Author Website  Book Club Visit/Guides   Email


Author Cindy Dyson

Dyson presented her Last Query approach at a writer’s conference and was so overwhelmed with requests for more that she put together this short, direct how-to. “This approach isn’t for every author,” Dyson says. “My advice tends toward the rogue.”

What sets the query advice in this how-to book apart is that Dyson begins her process of creating the best query with psychological principles and builds a rational/emotive scaffold for any author who’s willing to slow down with this part of the publication-seeking process.

Sneaky Peek

However, you are a hunter, and you know that within this pile could be your favorite prey — the undiscovered voice, the next meal ticket, the book that will boost your reputation.

This is the mindset of the agent your query has to attract. Your query is competing with twenty-nine others that day, and the fifty that will come in the next week. On average, agents take less than three percent of the queries they read. Of those they take on, half will sell. Those odds are horrific. And they mean that many, many great books will never be graced with agent representation.

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